Tag Archives: culmus-latex

Creating a Hebrew Document in LyX 2.1 with XeTeX

This post complements the basic LaTeX template I gave yesterday for typesetting Hebrew with XeTeX. I’ll walk through the (short) list of steps needed to configure LyX with XeTeX.


  • LyX 2.1 or later (I’ve also tested with the development version of 2.2). I had very limited success with LyX 2.0, so you should probably avoid it.
  • XeTeX – I’ve tested with version 3.1415926-2.4-0.9998 which comes with TeXLive 2012, but I guess any recent version will do.
  • The polyglossia and bidi packages. Again I’ve used those which come with TeXLive 2012.
  • Good TrueType Hebrew fonts. I recommend Culmus 0.121 or newer. You may also try and use the fonts that come with your operating system, they might work as well.

Setting up the document

Create a new document and open the settings dialog (Document -> Settings...).

  1. Pick a suitable Document class. I recommend “KOMA-Script Article” but “Article” works just as fine. Avoid “Hebrew Article”, as it is broken under XeTeX.
  2. Under Fonts check the box next to `Use non-TeX fonts (via XeTeX/LuaTeX) and select suitable fonts:
    • Roman: Frank Ruehl CLM. David CLM is also a good choice with somewhat better italics variant.
    • Sans Serif: Simple CLM.
    • Typewriter: Miriam Mono CLM.
    • There is no need to change the Math font.
  3. Under Language select Hebrew as the document’s language.

That’s basically it. You can now write your document and compile it. I would suggest saving these settings as default (via “Save as Document Defaults”) or saving it as a template so you won’t need to repeat those steps.

Writing in English

To insert English text in your Hebrew document, you need to change the current language. The easiest way to do so is to create a keyboard shortcut for it:

  1. Go to Tools -> Preferences -> Editing -> Shortcuts
  2. Write “language” under “Show key-bindings containing:”.
  3. Select “language” under “Cursor, Mouse and Editing Functions” and click “Modify” to set a keyboard shortcut (F12 is traditionally used for this).

Now you can toggle the current language between English and Hebrew by simply pressing F12.

Remark about Fonts

It is preferable to use fonts that provide both Hebrew and Latin scripts, as otherwise there might be significant style differences which make the document look weird. It is possible to set a different font for Hebrew and Latin, but care needs to be taken to match styles. To do so, add the following lines to the Preamble:

\newfontfamily\hebrewfont[Script=Hebrew]{David CLM}
\newfontfamily\hebrewfonttt[Script=Hebrew]{Miriam Mono CLM}
\newfontfamily\hebrewfontsf[Script=Hebrew]{Simple CLM}

Hebrew with XeTeX Example

This is an example of a document in XeTeX (Actually XeLaTeX). I’ve used The fonts from the Culmus Project. Note that you’ll need Culmus 0.121 or newer in order to get the Frank Ruehl font in TrueType. As you can see, Nikud are placed correctly. The cantillation marks (טעמי המקרא) are in a small offset compared to the ideal position.

Overall, XeTeX works much better with Hebrew (and easier to use) than pdfTeX.


\setmainfont{Frank Ruehl CLM}
\setmonofont{Miriam Mono CLM}
\setsansfont{Simple CLM}
% Use the following if you only want to change the font for Hebrew
%\newfontfamily\hebrewfont[Script=Hebrew]{David CLM}
%\newfontfamily\hebrewfonttt[Script=Hebrew]{Miriam Mono CLM}
%\newfontfamily\hebrewfontsf[Script=Hebrew]{Simple CLM}
טקסט רגיל
\textbf{טקסט מודגש}
\textit{טקסט נטוי}
\textit{\textbf{טקסט מודגש ונטוי}}
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
טקסט רגיל
\textbf{טקסט מודגש}
\textit{טקסט נטוי}
\textit{\textbf{טקסט מודגש ונטוי}}
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
טקסט רגיל
\textbf{טקסט מודגש}
\textit{טקסט נטוי}
\textit{\textbf{טקסט מודגש ונטוי}}
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Installing culmus-latex on Ubuntu 11.10

After someone complained to me that he can’t install culmus-latex on Ubuntu 11.10, I decided to check the issue. Apparently culmus-latex can’t be installed as-is on Ubuntu 11.10 (and probably other new versions of Debian and Ubuntu). The problem have been reported in few places such as Whatsup, but as I don’t frequent the forum lately, I wasn’t aware of it. Skip bellow if you’re just interested in the workaround.

Technical Details

The problem manifests itself as:

sudo make install
... snipped for brevity ...
mktexlsr: Done.
updmap-sys --enable Map=culmus.map
updmap: This is updmap, version $Id: updmap 14402 2009-07-23 17:09:15Z karl $
updmap: using transcript file `/var/lib/texmf/web2c/updmap.log'
updmap: initial config file is `/var/lib/texmf/web2c/updmap.cfg'
make: *** [install] Error 2

But if you look at updmap’s manpage there is no documentation for the return codes. Also there is no explicit place where it exits with return code 2 in the code. After some straceing I found the culprit in the combination of the set -e in the top of /usr/bin/updmap and the function pickLocalFile in /usr/share/tex-common/debianize-upddmap which overrides certain behaviors in updmap. The pickLocalFile uses the following lines

localfile="`ls $debDirname/*local*cfg 2>/dev/null`"
if [ -n "$localfile" ]; then

To check if there is a local configuration file under /etc/texmf/updmap.d. If such file doesn’t exist, instead of creating one (as the maintainers of debianize-updmap intended) it fails due to the set -e in /usr/bin/updmap. Thus updmap exists with error code 2, instead of completing the installation.

Meanwhile, until the bug is fixed, there is a simple workaround


Before installing, execute

sudo touch /etc/texmf/updmap.d/10local.cfg

And now the regular sudo make install installation should finish successfully.

As the problem is a result of a Debian bug, I don’t expect to release a new version of culmus-latex, instead I’ll report the bug to the Debian team.

Emulating Kav-Mafrid (em-dash) for the David Font

The David font that is used in Culmus-LaTeX lacks support of Kav-Mafrid, the ligature that is created by two consecutive dashes, --. Because the regular Hebrew dash, Maqaf, is position near the top of the line, one can’t use it instead of the Kav-Mafrid and expect a graphically pleasant result (while Kav-Mafrid can replace Maqaf and the text would still look ok). To make things even more problematic, this ligature is supported by Culmus-LaTeX’s default font, Frank Ruehl, which means one can’t easily switch fonts without hurting the layout.
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